Saturday, July 4, 2015

Searching for Swirly Rocks

Vivian and I have slowly been emerging from our ailments.  I was afflicted with a terrible sinus infection, like nothing I've ever experienced.  Thankfully, but unfortunately, Sarah has already been down that road, so she was able to advise me to rush out (I actually sent Justin out) to purchase an item known as a Sinugator that shoots water up your nose.  I was desperate for relief, but it sounded terrible.  The alternative to this was to attempt this netty pot business, and that just sounded too much like waterboarding myself.  I was skeptical that shooting water up into my sinuses would solve anything, but here I am, days later, still breathing, and I seem to be well on the road to recovery.  As for Vivian, three doctor's appointments (although one of them was something of a waste of time) and three prescriptions later, she is back to her usual routine of high volume trashing of our household.

After days of sitting around in this apartment feeling terrible, yesterday the walls started to feel like they were closing in on me.  I told Justin that we had to get out and do something.  Anything.  We spent half the day trying to figure out what to do, and finally decided to go to an obscure Utah location to secure for ourselves some swirly looking rocks that we saw online.

It wasn't Justin's first idea of a good time, but he decided it was better than the alternative of staying at home and doing nothing.  So we set off on our little trip.

To say this was a little off the beaten path would be an understatement.  It was about a 90 minute drive, and far enough out into the middle of nowhere that every time we saw another car I found myself wondering what they heck that other person was doing all the way out there.  For some time we traveled along an unmarked dirt road that Justin was entirely uncertain was actually the road we were supposed to be on.  We were reassured that it was when we came across this:
We still have no idea why this antelope wasn't spooked off right away.  Maybe it was reluctant to give up the shade?
A marker for the Pony Express trail
Justin had read that the road was part of the old Pony Express route.  Assured that we weren't totally of course we forged ahead to the community of Faust, Utah.  The only thing we saw there that was really noteworthy was yet another pony express monument.  
The Faust Monument
After that our drive took us back to a dirt road, and all was going well until we hit a place that seemed a bit muddy.  We weren't feeling super confident about our ability to traverse the mud pit, but Justin decided to venture in and test it out.  We made it maybe 5 feet in, which was not even a quarter of the way, and felt the car starting to bog down.  He put the car in reverse, and after a few seconds of uselessly spinning the tires and flinging up blobs of mud everywhere the car regained traction enough to back out of the mud pit.  We were driving the Honda Accord, and looking at the brush and such growing on either side of the road it seemed that our quest for the swirly rocks was going to meet an abrupt end.  Justin got out of the car and decided to walk into the mud pit to see if another area was more stable.  I sat in the car and watched him walk out on a portion that seemed a little dryer.  He made it a few feet out and then I saw him start to slip.  He turned around and we both shook our heads at each other.  No way were we going to get ourselves trapped in a mud pit, of all things, in the middle of a blazing hot day in literally, nowhere Utah.  

Justin got back in the car, put it in reverse, and we started backing out the narrow dirt road.  We just weren't quite ready to give up.  He stopped the car, and asked me if I'd be willing to leave the car and hike in the rest of the way.  This was an easy answer, since I had already been contemplating posing the same question to him.  So he again put the car in drive and we started back down the dirt road, when I spotted what looked like would I describe this?  Not a dirt road, but more of a path through the grass and brush that was worn out by other vehicles.  It appeared to go around the mud pit.  I got out and walked in front of the car along the path to make sure we weren't going to run across some kind of crazy boulder or hidden rut.  All the while I was wondering why we bothered to buy an SUV so that we could then attempt this kind of thing in a sedan.  I kicked myself even harder for leaving the CRV at home when we arrived at the end of the path and basically held my breath/prayed that we didn't lose the oil pan while Justin slowly inched over the drop off back onto the road.  The oil pan is fine, it sounded like we almost lost the back bumper, but it miraculously remained firmly attached to the rest of the vehicle and we continued on our way a few miles away to the swirly rocks.  
The final destination.  Vivian was very uncertain about this whole thing.
We felt like we had just gotten out and congratulated ourselves on actually making it to our destination when we were joined by a rather redneck looking family that made weirdly quick work of gathering a bag of rocks and disappearing again.  The father did take time to tell us how lucky we are that we didn't get stuck in the mud.  He said that his first time out here (apparently he's a regular) he attempted to get through the mud pit in his truck, and almost didn't make it.  He said it's even softer and deeper than it looks.  So on second thought maybe I'm glad we didn't drive the SUV.  I like to think that we wouldn't have tried to traverse the mud pit even in the other car, but the all wheel drive may have left us with a false sense of confidence.  Either way, we didn't get stuck, and that's what counts.  We hung out there for an hour or so, collected a pile of rocks and then headed back.  Getting back on the path still looked risky.  We stopped and using my entrenching tool that I'd thrown in the car at the last minute, Justin piled up a little more dirt in the drop off and we made it back on and off the path again without issue.  Although I still was ready to chew my nails off standing outside of the car and watching to make sure it had clearance.  It was very close.  

This is a sample of what we have to show for our efforts: 
I'm not sure the picture does them justice.  The colors are quite bright.
We took the long route home, or rather the longer route home, and wound up back in the neighborhood several hours later, sorry to be back in the city so soon.  Still not quite ready to face the apartment again, we went on a bit of a fruitless mission looking for 4th of July t-shirts for the family (sold out at all locations we tried), and then wound up at an REI where we had the odd experience of actually repelling all their sales people.  I'm not sure if we just looked poor, or what, but after multiple attempts of trying to approach someone, only to see them turn and rush off in the other direction, or immediately engage another customer...seriously, we must have looked homeless or something, we gave up and returned home.  

This little outing has me feeling kind of hyped up about finally getting back to being healthy enough to get out and enjoy summer!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Swear I'm not that Mom!

Vivian has been doing a round of antibiotics for her ear infections, but we've been a little worried about them.  She's still grabbing at her ears, and scratched one of them up until it bled.  I was already thinking about calling the doctor today when I woke up and found her running a temperature of 102.  I called.  They set up an appointment for late in the afternoon. 

All day today she's had a high temperature, been tired and sluggish, limited appetite, and insists on being held at all times.  I was sure that we were going to get to the doctor's office and they were going to tell me that she's developed some additional illness.  

Quite the opposite.  We get to the doctor's office, and she suddenly experienced some surge of good energy.  Her fever broke.  She chatted and laughed with the nurse who took her very normal temperature.  Justin met us there on his way home from work and she rushed to him and was sitting there in his lap all smiles when the doctor came in, checked her ears, looked her over and basically told me "nothing wrong with this kid."  

I felt like a crazy person.  We weren't home an hour when the fever returned, and she's back to spending the entire evening laying around on my lap with no appetite.  So at least my husband doesn't think I'm a head case that just likes to visit the doctor.  On the downside, I have no idea what to make of this, or what to do for her.  It's very weird.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mary, Martha, and Katherine.

June was a month I've been dreading for some time.  Our company attached a four-day drill "weekend" onto our two week annual training.  Meaning, I was going to leave my baby for almost three straight weeks.  Initially I was told that I would be able to come home every night to be with her, then that I wouldn't, then that I would, then that I wouldn't, etc...   It went back and forth like that for weeks leading up to this dreaded training event.  Thankfully Sarah volunteered to take Vivian in and make her a Hexberg for the duration, and was very flexible about the whole "maybe we'll be home this evening to spend the night with her, and maybe we won't" kind of scenario that ensued throughout the duration of the training.  In the end, the longest I went without seeing her was five days.  She didn't really seem all that affected by my absence since she had all her little Hexberg cousins around her to keep her company.  She was returned to me in her usual healthy, happy state.

Immediately upon her return to our home Vivian started showing signs of a cold.  She wound up with a set of ear infections, and an eye infection.  We had a couple of sleepless nights, but now she seems to be doing quite well.  I, on the other hand, immediately contracted her illness, and I guess the long training hours, limited sleep, no days off, crappy food, no physical exercise (this training was a lot of sitting), followed by a couple of sleepless nights with a sick baby caught up with me.  I found myself with not just a cold, but one that came accompanied with chills and fever, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, and exhaustion.  I spent an entire day, wrapped in a blanket on the couch feeling like I had been steam rolled, while my baby ran around the house making more messes than I even knew a person her size was capable of creating.  Yesterday I woke up, and to my relief was feeling more myself.  The fever was just kind of slight, the sore throat wasn't as bad, the nausea was gone, and I had enough energy to put my house back together again.  After that I was feeling so good that when Justin said he was going to get off work early I suggested that we take a little hike.

I have read about this particular hike several times, and have kept telling myself we need to do it this summer, so this seemed like an ideal opportunity.  It's a 4-mile round trip hike with only a 1,200 ft. elevation gain.  So, not that bad, and you visit three alpine lakes along the way.  Lakes, Mary, Martha, and Katherine.  I threw this out there to Justin and he expressed some hesitancy, seeing as how I still couldn't go more than 5 minutes or so without blowing my nose, and my voice sounds like that of a man, but I reassured him that I was up to it.  So we loaded up and headed out.

Literally 100 meters or so into the hike and I started to feel like I may have overestimated my recovery a little.  A quarter of a mile in and Justin was subjected to unrestrained whining about how I wasn't going to make it, and we would definitely be turning back after the first lake.  I finally dragged myself and Vivian (because she still refuses to allow her dad to carry her on the hikes) up to Lake Mary, and after a few pictures parked myself on a rock to take a break.

On the opposite end of the lake, getting ready to continue on to Martha.
After my brief rest at Mary I decided that we should continue on to Martha, and secretly I already knew that even if I had to drag myself there I was going to make it to Katherine, because one does not simply crap out two lakes into a three lake hike.  

Martha, the smallest of the three lakes.
Lake Martha is actually very close to Mary, but much smaller.  What surprised us is how few people actually continue on after Mary.  There were a fair number of people at Mary, but none at Martha and only one fisherman who was packing up for the day when we arrived at Katherine.

Katherine was well worth the effort.
Lake Katherine was beautiful.  We weren't able to linger too long since our daylight hours were starting to wane a bit, and my energy seemed to be slipping away along with them.  We started the descent down, and immediately I knew I had probably overdone it.  By the time we got back to Mary I was exhausted and we attempted to move Vivian over to Justin.  That was short-lived.  Her screaming and writhing around showed no signs of letting up, so we strapped her back on me and continued our descent.  

It's been a super hot month, and yet there's still big patches of snow up there.

There were tons of wildflowers growing along the trail.
About a quarter mile from the parking lot my fever returned.  I felt like I barely stumbled back to the car, and made Justin drive most of the ride home without any air conditioning because I had chills so bad that in 80 degree weather I felt like I was going to die of hypothermia.  When we finally got home we showered, ate dinner, and we're getting ready for bed.  Vivian was cuddling with me in our bed, but unbeknownst to me, because I was sick and too stuffed up to hear or smell anything, had suffered a massive blowout, the first in months.  So at midnight we were bathing her and changing sheets.  Justin went to bed around 1230, Vivian and I were up for another hour after that waiting for her to calm down enough to drift off.  I went to bed still running a fever, but I feel much better this morning.  that being said, lesson learned.  Today I'll just be taking it easy.  In hindsight I'm glad we went yesterday, in the moment I was kicking myself, and I promise myself that I will never again tackle something like this unless I'm all the way recovered, not just mostly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


As of late our lives have been thrown into a little bit of chaos.  It felt like it hit us out of nowhere.  It all kind of started several weeks ago when Justin and I decided to go to the open house for the new Payson temple.

As always she loves being outside, and loves Dad's days off.
On our way home we decided to stop in at Winco for a few items out of their bulk section, since we don't have one near us.  We made our selections and were getting ready to leave when we noticed Meredith in a neighboring aisle with Jill.  While talking to Meredith the subject of the missing Provo woman came up, and we were lamenting to one another how badly we felt about the situation when Sarah strolled around the corner with Fox.  I don't know that other people meet up with their sisters in the bulk section of Winco, but we do.  Sarah joined the conversation and mentioned that she had heard of an event in Salt Lake the next day to post flyers for the missing woman.  We talked a little about things and then we all left to attend to the rest of our respective schedules.  Still though, the story of Elizabeth Elena Laguna Salgado hung in the back of my head for the rest of the day.  (For the benefit of anyone who reads this that hasn't heard, she is a Mexican citizen who came to Provo, UT on a scholarship to learn English.  She was only here a couple of weeks when she disappeared, seemingly without a trace.  Her family is here in Utah from Mexico frantically trying to find her before they will need to return to Mexico, and the three other children that are still at home.  Like Elizabeth, they don't speak any English.)  The idea of having your child go missing in a foreign country is unsettling to put it mildly.

The next morning I woke up, called Sarah for the details of the Salt Lake event, and called Brianna to tell her that I had a different idea for how we could spend our afternoon, since she was scheduled to come visit.  Brianna and I spent the better part of our day tromping around a crappy part of Salt Lake posting missing person flyers.  It wasn't super fun, but I was grateful for a chance to feel like I was doing something, anything to help.  We were both however, somewhat disheartened by what seemed like a pretty weak turnout for the event.

A few days later I heard of another event in Provo.  This time it was to search for a body.  I talked Justin into coming with me.  The organizer was very nervous, and made mention that he was stepping far outside of his comfort zone, but that he had a strong desire to help in some way.  Again, the turnout was disappointingly weak.

The next day Justin and I figured out who to contact to pick up some of the missing person flyers, and on our own, after work we spent the evening posting flyers.  While we were posting we looked around in Provo, only blocks where this woman disappeared and were dismayed at really how few flyers we were seeing.  While driving home late that night we talked about the man from the previous day's event and determined that maybe it was time that we too stepped outside of our comfort zone.  We called Brianna and the three of us decided to organize our own event.  Justin started calling local printers, and before too long had an impressive number of flyers donated.  Brianna contacted the local press, and issued invitations to anyone she could think of (she has thousands of friends).  Sarah and I planned out routes and put together packets for our prospective volunteers.  We feel that our event was pretty successful.  We had lots of volunteers, we covered all of our routes, we had tons of press coverage, and at the end of the day felt that Provo was pretty well covered with copies of this flyer:
Justin managed to get copies of this in color, black and white, and on neon cardstock to attract attention, etc.
After that we have tried every way we can think of to keep her face out there.  Sarah has organized events, we organized a second sort of failed event that found Justin standing on the corner of Main St. and University Parkway holding a poster, and me rushing into the street to hand out flyers to cars stopping at the red light. sign of Elizabeth, so we continue to plaster them all over our apartment complex, and distribute them to anyone who is willing to post them in their area, and then wait and pray that she will be found.  Sarah has worked tirelessly to help this cause as well.  She created a website and is also constantly trying to figure out ways to distribute flyers and keep her face in the news.  People say to us all the time that she's probably dead, and statistically...and of course we all know the statistics, but her family prays for a miracle, and I can't help but think, if she were mine...would I give up and go home to my country because statistics tell me that she's probably gone?  No chance.  

Still, in the midst of all of this Justin and I decided we needed to take a little break and use some of our free time to do something for our family.  We feel good about our efforts to help them, but we need to have some balance in there too, so we made reservations at the crack of dawn for Timpanogos Cave.  I've lived in Utah most of my life, but never been to the caves, and Justin hasn't ever been either, so we figured it was a good time to check it out.  

We heard the hike up was brutal.  It was steep, but only a little over a mile, so really not too bad.  We picked the earliest reservation they offered, at 7am, and we were glad that we did.  Initially we were feeling kind of chilly, but by the time we got to the top we were both kind of sweaty, it would have been very hot doing that hike mid-day.

She actually fell asleep right after this picture and slept through most of the cave.


Too chilly to take her hands out of the blanket, but she wanted to chew on my zipper pull.
When I first made the reservations we were the only party going at 7am.  Another group that consisted of two retired Canadian brothers and their wives joined us, and I confided in Justin that I was very disappointed.  I had hoped that no one else would be on the tour because I wanted to ask the tour guide to cut all the geology crap out about how the caves were formed billions of years ago, by powerful forces of nature that blah, blah, blah... I naturally couldn't make any such request with another group joining us on the tour.  Our tour guide was a very hippy looking guy that admitted he had just recently moved here from Portland, pronounced the last part of Timpanogos like "no goes," which I thought was very amusing, and during his introduction of himself announced that he had majored in Geology, and that he was very passionate about the topic.  I was bracing myself for the worst, but he was actually a great guide, shared just enough to be interesting, never lectured me about some environmentalist issue, and never spent too long rambling on about mineral deposits and ancient volcanic activity.  

We were super glad that we took the time out to do this together.  We still continue to try and do what we can to help find Elizabeth, post flyers, and pray for her safe return.  There have been many moments when I think that we have both considered being done with this project, but there is always that lingering thought, "but if she were mine..." All in all we have been grateful for this experience.  It has created quite a bit of chaos and inconvenience in our lives, but at the end of the day it has also given us a rare opportunity to step outside of our world, our worries, and away from our own selfish and petty cares, and do what little we can to help someone else with bigger worries, and heartbreak.  There have been many, valuable lessons we have been taught along the way, both temporal and spiritual.  Justin and I have had several conversations over the last few weeks, and hope that in the future, should such opportunities again arise, we will not be the people that simply hear the news of misfortune, express sadness and remorse that we live in a sometimes harsh world, and then forget, but that we will always try to rise to the occasion.  We have sometimes surprised even ourselves with how much we can do when we make the choice to be helpful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Wide World of Solids

Vivian's days of nursing have been numbered.  The army has numbered them.  In a couple of months I'll be leaving for a mandatory three weeks of training, and she'll be staying behind with family.  At first I thought I'd just keep doing this whole pumping thing.  There was a time when I would have said that my unit was being really supportive of the whole soldier mom thing.  Unfortunately, that time has passed.  My baby girl is being weaned.  

The first day went pretty poorly.  There's nothing quite like starting off the day with your baby clinging to you sobbing because you won't feed her, and she's too little to understand why.  I mean obviously I tried feeding her a bottle.  It was rejected.  I tried the oatmeal cereal.  Also rejected.  Finally I managed to coerce her into eating some banana and nursed her.  That's pretty much the story of the last two days.  I approach with a bottle of formula, and she starts writhing around in front of me and squealing as though I'm approaching with an instrument of torture.  Actually the squealing has been eliminated because she's learned to not open her mouth to emit any noise lest I seize the opportunity to do something disgusting like try and actually place the bottle's nipple in her mouth.  If the bottle does come in contact with her mouth there's an immediate reaction of screaming like she's just been fed a caustic substance, and a renewed effort to thrash around so that the bottle is inevitably knocked free from her mouth and shoots formula all over both of us.  So much fun.  We tried having Justin give her a bottle.  Rejected.  We tried formula in her sippy cup.  Rejected.  In a regular glass.  Rejected.  She simply hates the stuff.  So, we're left with nothing to do but wean her to solids.  She's still not pleased with the idea of being given solids when she's clearly wanting to nurse, but it is going marginally better than my attempts at moving her to formula.  Here's some pictures I snapped from today's breakfast: 
For breakfast, clothes don't seem to be a great idea.  We go straight from the high chair to the tub.
I sometimes worry that she's not going to get enough to eat, but since she can effectively hide her diaper from view just by leaning over I figure we've still got some time before I need to really start worrying.  This is her craning over to see the food that she's just knocked onto the floor.
Trying to act like she doesn't see me offering a spoonful of oatmeal cereal.

This is the reaction to some pears I was trying to offer her as a reward for eating most of the oatmeal cereal.  She is a tiny bit dramatic.

She's not trying to retrieve those little bits of food, she's trying to sweep them to the floor.

Then she decided that breakfast was over.

Looks like from here on out she'll be wearing that 5-point harness.
This has not been the funnest thing that she or I have ever done, and I'm pretty sure that we both hate it equally, but thankfully outside of mealtime she seems to be relatively unaffected by this latest little transition.  She started walking a while back, and is content to cruise around the house creating messes, and happily chattering to herself everywhere she goes.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Black Disney Vacation

We just returned a few days ago from a vacation with my family to Disneyland.  The last time my family vacationed together was...I have no idea.  It's been too long.  Unfortunately, this vacation still wasn't quite complete.  Devon and his family, and Ethan weren't able to make it, and we missed you.  I, for one, hope that we do something like this again, and that next time everyone can be there.  That's really saying something since Justin and I were not at all thrilled about this trip.  The timing was off for us.  It came on the heels of Hawaii, we'd just been to Disneyland with Justin's family back in November, our kid is still too small to enjoy the experience, and Justin wasn't able to get his leave approved.  All the same, after many discussions we finally decided that we needed to go.  The opportunities to vacation with my family are just too sparse to pass this one up.  We bought a plane ticket for Justin to join me there mid-week, and booked a rental car for me to drive. 

It's inevitable with a vacation that isn't being headed up and planned by one party, and involves 14 different adults, that some drama will ensue.  It did.   There were all kinds of miscommunications, and in some cases just a lack of communication regarding everything from time share/hotel reservations to transportation issues.  None of it amounted to anything, and eventually all of these little issues got sorted out and the vacation was underway.  (I'll respect the rights of others to share their version of how this vacation went, so if you have something to add or correct in the comments, by all means, do so.)

Saturday afternoon Justin and I went out to pick up my rental car.  When we got the car we noticed that the trunk was really quite spacious.  We'd briefly toyed with the idea of camping on our way home from this vacation, and the trunk space seemed more than adequate. We asked to have an extra couple of days added to our reservation, and we rushed home.  Justin must have made a dozen trips out to the car packing up all of our camping equipment.  We barely had room for everything, but we successfully squished the last of our items into the trunk (actually, that's not true.  We had to pawn our stroller off on Meredith and Jake to transport for us since we weren't able to get it wedged in there with all of our other stuff) and drove our car and the rental to Orem for the night.  I had agreed to drive with my dad to California.  I gave him the choice between a late night arrival in Las Vegas, or an extremely early Sunday morning departure.  He chose Sunday morning and told me that "the morning hours are my time of the day.  I'll have no problem staying awake to keep you awake while you drive."  I told him that I would like to leave by 3:30am.  He was undeterred, and said that would be fine.  I woke up at 3am, Justin helped me load the groceries and such in the car.  Still no sign of Dad.  I woke up Vivian and changed her diaper, fed her, and had her strapped in the car seat.  Still no sign of Dad.  I finally went up to their bedroom to find out where he was at 3:40.  He was messing with his alarm system, which he reassured me would only take him another few minutes.  It was 3:45, I barked at him to get out in the car since the time for that had already passed and we were late.  My mom who was just finishing curling her hair (I wore the same outfit of sweat pants and t-shirt from the day before, and literally the only thing I did that morning to get ready was brush my teeth.  I didn't even bother reapplying deodorant, and she was up at 3am curling her hair...) reprimanded me for my rudeness, and then told him in politer tones to stop messing with the alarm and get ready.  The two items he said he was bringing with him in our car turned to four, but we were able to smash it all in there, and we left at 4am.  

Our drive to California was relatively uneventful.  My dad did forget to put his hearing aids in that morning, so all the way to Vegas I repeated most of my half of the conversation at shouting volume.  He put them in when we stopped for gas in Vegas.  I'm not sure they helped, it seemed like one of them was malfunctioning or something.  All the same, we managed, and although he mentioned several times that he was very tired, and feeling quite drowsy, he insisted on staying awake to monitor me.  I'm glad he did.  We arrived in Anaheim about an hour behind John and his family, and an hour ahead of Sarah and her's.  Meredith left hours after the rest of us.  I don't even know what time she finally got there. 

The goal in leaving so early was to make it through Vegas and beat the Sunday afternoon rush back to California.  Mission accomplished, but it also landed us in Anaheim several hours before check-in at the time share.  John's room was available early so fortuitously he had checked in and he sent Neal (who rode with them) out to the street curb in front of the restaurant where they were eating to hand off a room key.  We lounged around in their room for a while, letting Vivian crawl/walk laps around the room to celebrate her release from the car seat.  Eventually John and his group returned from the restaurant, just as Sarah and her's arrived, and the parent's room became available for check-in.  I spent the first night with Sarah and Jared's family at the Marengo household.  (I don't think they read this blog, but just in case, thank you for letting me crash for a night in your room while you were gone Shannon and Ricky!)  Sarah drove in with my mom in a rental car with two of her kids, and Jared and the rest of the kids were in a separate car.  Sarah needed to leave the rental car at the time share, and asked if she could cram herself, Winnie, and Fox in with me in my car.  No problem.  We evicted all of Dad's items, did a little shifting, shoving, rearranging, and were able to free up all the seats.  Unbeknownst to us, Jared had made plans with his family to attend an Easter dinner.  Great!  Kind of embarrassing when you're still wearing an outfit from the previous day, haven't so much as washed your face with a wet wipe, much less showered, and have little bits of crusty dough still clinging to the front of your t-shirt from yesterday's last minute bread baking.  The Hexberg's didn't seem to mind though, and the dinner was a welcome meal after a day of roadtrip snacks.  

We arrived at the Marengo household in the early evening, although after the 3am wake up, it felt like 10pm.  I was so tired that I spent some time just sitting on a chair in their family room watching Vivian attempt to destroy everything within in arm's reach.  Mercifully their home is already pretty childproof, so really the big chore was to just keep her from poking Fox in the eyes while he tried to nap.  (He fascinates her, so this is an ongoing task when they're together.)  I finally mustered up the energy to get us showered and off to bed after a little phone call home to Justin.  

The next morning we woke up early, and while I just have myself and Vivian to get ready, the Hexberg's had four to prepare.  Although, Rocky counts for like five when he's feeling willful, and he was feeling willful.  So for the most part Vivian and I spent our morning preparing for departure at a slow and steady pace, while chaos ensued with her cousins.  It sounds peaceful, almost relaxing doesn't it?  It wasn't, she had a massive blowout, had to be dragged away from Fox every time I turned her loose long enough to make her way back over to his bouncy chair, and made every effort to knock herself unconscious on their fireplace.  Still, I believe it to have been a blissful and relaxing morning compared to Sarah's.  As we were leaving to drive to the time share to meet up with the rest of the family, we received a phone call that everyone else was leaving for Disneyland, and "gee...hope that's not a problem."  It was.  We were laboring under the impression that no one was leaving for another hour.  The Partridges still had my stroller, and Sarah didn't have a key card to the parking structure.  My mom volunteered to stay behind with the stroller and a key card.  Sarah hadn't shifted her car seats out of my car into the family van yet, so we strapped Fox and Winnie in the back with Vivian, and set off for a fun-filled day at Disneyland.  Only the kids looked excited.  We pulled into the time share and started prepping strollers.  I took a minute to snap a couple shots of Vivian and Fox, sitting quietly in the backseat while the other hyped up kids danced around and did everything they could to create noise, ignore their parents, and delay departure.  

Lest anyone read this and think that I'm judging the Hexberg children, let me just state clearly, they're not poorly behaved children.  They are just children on their way to Disneyland.  At long last we met up with the rest of the family in the park and headed out to ride Splash Mountain. 

As horrified as Erica looks in this picture, she willingly got back in line right away for a second ride.

Round two looks marginally less terrifying.
After the second ride on Splash Mountain, we exited the ride to be greeted by this familiar face: 
Cousin RaChelle
A few of the cousins were there too.  We chatted for a few minutes, and then they went their separate ways, but always good to see them even if it is only a short visit!

After that I left Meredith sitting on that bench since Jill was sleeping and she didn't want to wake her, and I caught up with the others as they were exiting the Buzz Lightyear ride.  As tends to happen with large groups, there was a long period of deliberation before it was decided that we would all proceed to It's a Small World. 

The Partridges had lunch reservations, so they left for that and oddly enough I don't recall seeing them again for the rest of the day...and only briefly for the rest of the trip.  I'm not sure how we managed to miss each other.  It's a Small World was great because everyone, all the way down to the tiny Mr. Fox could ride, although he didn't seem to really love the experience.  After that we all tended to kind of splinter off into smaller groups for the rest of the day.  I spent most of the day with John's family. 

Vivian seems quite fond of her Uncle John.
Vivian and I ended up calling it a little early that night.  We went back to the time share for dinner, and after watching the thrilled excitement she experienced with the freedom from her stroller, I decided that we wouldn't be going back to the park that evening.  Instead I stayed behind and watched Coen and Creed while Michelle ran to the store and John returned to the park with his other two.  I teased Creed and made him cry.  It was kind of a low point for me.  John treated my baby like a little princess, and I made his son cry.  Aunt Julie is awesome!  At least he's still young, so these incidents seem to be quickly forgotten.  By the time Vivian and I got to bed that night my baby was exhausted.  
The next morning the others all went to California Adventure, but Vivian and I stayed behind.  Justin flew in that night, and we decided that it would best for us to take a break.  We also would have to leave so early to go meet Justin that it wasn't worth the money to pay for a short day.  I woke up early, Vivian was still asleep.  Hours later I woke her up to change her diaper.  She fell right back to sleep.  All of my plans for fun things we were going to do that day kind of went up in smoke.  Apparently the long road trip followed by a day at Disneyland had caught up with her.  I was grateful that we had that free day to give her a break, she obviously needed it.  She spent almost the entire day sleeping and eating.  We picked Justin up from the Long Beach airport that evening, and went straight to a McDonald's to use the free wi-fi so Justin could register for his classes (registration opened a few minutes before his flight landed).  His registration took a little while, and Vivian was completely energized from her day of rest and relaxation.  She spent the entire time at the restaurant showing off for the employees (which earned her a free plastic toy), and the other patrons.  During her jumping around, and mauling her Dad my cellphone got tossed onto a bench next to ours.  It stayed there after we left.  We drove all the way from Long Beach to Anaheim, and realized just as we were pulling into the timeshare parking lot that it was still back at the McDonald's.  So after another round trip to Long Beach to retrieve the phone we got to bed around midnight.  I was then doubly grateful that Vivian had been granted that day of R & R.

The next morning we got a slow start, but headed out to the San Diego Zoo with Andrew, Kate, and Mom and Dad.  Justin and I drove separately from the others.  The traffic was bad, the parking was worse.  We finally found a spot on the street, and although there were some curse words and a bit of a harsh exchange regarding my ability, or rather lack thereof to parallel park, we made it to the zoo.  Andrew and his car ended up parking some distance away.  The day was about what one would anticipate from a day at the zoo.  Lots of walking around looking at animals.   Kate and Andrew did their own thing for an hour or so while we took the bus tour.  After that we mostly stuck together.  Although my mom refused to set foot inside the reptile house, and my dad insisted on riding the sky tram solo since no one else was interested. Being there in the spring was nice since there were baby animals out, most notably a baby hippo. 

The next day everyone returned for the final day at Disneyland.  We all met in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle for a family picture, Andrew and Kate have the copies of that.  We spent most of the morning with the Hexberg's.  
The highlight of the day was perhaps the canoe ride.  Although Justin and I had to cut in line in front of at least twenty people to join in on this, only to be greeted by John who announced at the top of his lungs that he couldn't believe that we would shove our way in front of all those people waiting in line.  I didn't even look behind us to see if anyone had heard his announcement.  My dad did get wedged between the benches of the canoe partway through the ride, so I think it's fair to assume that it was not the highlight of his day.  

Part way around the lake they encouraged us to shout out to the people on shore about how much fun we were having.  I don't think anyone outside of our family made a peep.

I thought she would like the carousel.  She was mostly just interested in trying to eat the handles.
The next morning our vacation was over, and everyone said goodbye and started their trip back to Utah.  Justin and I have been really curious about getting a time share for ourselves, so we agreed to do their sales meeting.  We bit.  It took pretty much all day to finalize the paperwork, and by the time we left we decided that our camping trip would have to be sacrificed.  We stopped in Riverside to see Justin's grandpa, and then started home.  We were hoping to make it to St. George.  Vivian wasn't seeing it our way.  We ended up spending the night in a Best Western in Barstow that was half hotel, half trailer park.  Until this I didn't even know such a thing existed, but oddly and unexpectedly enough it turned out to be one of the nicest Best Western's we have visited.  

The next day on our trip home we detoured through Kolob Canyon for a brief look around.  We decided to go on a short hike, and then we thought better of it.  In a rare display of responsibility we determined that it was better to just get back on the road and get our baby home where she could enjoy a little freedom of movement.  She thanked us with squeals of delight, and huge smiles when we unleashed her from the car seat again several hours later.

We're glad we made this trip, and are hoping that it isn't too long before the next chance we get to vacation with my family.